Sound improvements with Acoustic Treatments
What are acoustic treatments?
If you're like most music or home theatre lovers, you're probably always on the lookout for ways to make improvements your system. You may be surprised to know that one of the best bang for buck improvements we've made to the Soundline home theatre is the addition of acoustic treatments.
Put simply, the acoustic treatment of a room involves adding materials to the walls, ceiling or floor that are designed to absorb or reflect sound waves. By adding these materials in the correct way, we're aiming to control the amount of sound bouncing around the room that can cause echo and reverberation, and degrade your listening experience.
One important distinction to make here is between acoustic treatments and soundproofing. While acoustic treatments are designed to control the way sound behaves within a room, soundproofing seeks to isolate a room from the outside world. Here we're just looking at acoustic treatments and how they can improve your listening experience.
Acoustic treatments on the walls and ceiling can make a huge difference to sound quality
As the name suggests, bass traps are designed to capture excess low frequency energy, or more accurately, absorb it. Without these absorbers, lower frequencies (sub 300Hz) become heavily distorted with standing waves, random wave interference and other audio gremlins inflicting themselves on your ears. The room itself will have characteristics that naturally emphasise certain frequencies and mask others, making every bass note sound the same, regardless of it's true pitch.
Bass traps work in a similar way to other absorption panels. As sound waves enter the panel, they vibrate the many tiny fibers that are inside. Due to friction, some of the sound energy is converted into tiny amounts of heat and dispersed into the room. Energy and therefore the volume of any reflected sound is reduced.
Regular acoustic panels are too thin, not dense enough and not placed in the correct places to be effective in controlling bass frequencies. For these reasons, we need to use dedicated treatments that are targeted at the lower end waves.
Bass waves build up in the longer dimensions of a room due to their longer wavelength. This means problems are most common corner to corner, and from front wall to back wall. With this in mind, the first place we might want to add some bass traps are the vertical corners of the room, from floor to ceiling if possible. Running the trap from floor to ceiling has the added benefit of also covering the top and bottom corners.
Bass traps can be tuned to work best for specific frequency ranges and room sizes using varying techniques so it's worth getting some advice to make sure you get the best possible results. This is why we use your room measurements and other information when we design an acoustic treatment package for you. What works in one room probably won't work as well in another.
Bass traps are the first step in improving the acoustics of your room.
Acoustic panels are the next thing to look at once bass traps are in place. They typically have a larger surface area than bass traps and occupy part of a wall or ceiling.
Their primary function is to reduce standing waves that set up between opposite parallel walls, which they do through energy absorption just like bass traps. The effect is to reduce harsh reverberation which has a metallic ringing type sound that often occurs in untreated rooms. Just clap your hands in a room that has hard surfaces all around and you'll get an idea of what this sounds like.
How much treatment you apply to a room is ultimately up to you, but too much can sometimes result in a room that sounds lifeless. The solution to this is to include some diffusion panels, which will allow some reflection to remain, but with sound waves being scattered evenly and in a controlled way. Untamed sound reflections can get trapped in one spot, amplifying some frequencies and cancelling others, destroying the audio quality of the room.
Using a combination of panels and diffusers, it's possible to gain control of the acoustic properties of your room and fine tune it to suit your tastes. It's important to note that each room is different and there are many variables that should be taken into account. When we design a treatment system for your room, we take into consideration your room measurements, what it will be used for and any other needs you have, before working with our manufacturing partners Artnovion to design a system that will do exactly what you need. We use specialist software to determine which areas of the room need work, and where to place panels for maximum effect. Simply attaching panels to a wall or ceiling doesn't guarantee the best performance and is likely a waste of money.
Conceptual design and rendering of recommended acoustic treatments.
Materials and designs
Being placed so prominently in your home, it's important that acoustic treatments look great as well as enhance the sound of your music. Absorption panels have dozens of modern colour options available, and also come in a wide variety of finishes.
There is a large range colours and finishes available that will suit any decor.
Wooden diffusers also come in a great range of colours, including natural and painted. The wide selection of patterns available means you have plenty of options when it comes to choosing panels that will make your listening room a much more enjoyable place to be.
Acoustic panels can be designed to blend in with your room and go almost unnoticed, or you can choose to treat them as pieces of art and turn them into a feature of your room.